Social media has become a powerful tool for communicating with members, sharing content, asking and answering questions and building relationships. But it takes more than simply re-purposing calendar events or newsletter items to get the most out of your social media connections.
For busy association and chamber members on the go, social media may become their preferred form of contact.
Here are some to tips to drive member engagement for your association or chamber.
Watch, read and listen before acting - Social media is a powerful tool, but with great power comes great responsibility. That means you should take your time to understand your audience and what they're looking for from your organization. Read and understand the perspective of your potential followers before you reply and offer information.
Search Twitter and Facebook using common keywords and phrases to see what topics are popular among your members. For more information, check out 5 Twitter Tips for Finding New Members For Your Association.
Sign up for Google Alerts or other monitoring tools to find news and blog posts about the industries you serve.
In his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey said, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” That principal applies to social media as well.
Create a dialogue - When people specifically mention your organization or post on your page, make sure you reply. Yes, to all of them.
Don't simply delete a complaint and hope no one notices. That can send the message that you don’t care about members.
Address unhappy people directly, and reply publicly that you’re working on the issue. Then contact the person via private message or a phone call to get further details and correct the problem.
Tell your members’ stories - Whenever possible tie your story to a member's story and how they benefit. Instead of boring readers with “Register for the Business Expo,” make your event come alive with “Catering by Carrie earned seven new clients at last year’s Expo. Can you do the same this year?”
It’s all too easy to get lost in pumping out important information about events, legislative issues, and training programs. But it's the “Why” that members remember. If your story resonates with or benefits your members, your followers will be more likely to reply and share it with their networks.
Give things away - Have some fun. Give away a $10 gift card to the first person who subscribes to your blog. Offer a free event registration to the first person who tweets the year your organization was founded and mentions you in a tweet.
You don't have to do it every day, and the prizes can be small. No need for big screen TVs. It's a great way to drive interest for an event. Mix giveaways into your regular posts to to keep your followers' attention and get them to engage.
Ask questions, with a twist - There's nothing worse than asking questions to engage followers and winding up with a deafening silence. But asking random questions doesn't engage people.
Tie questions and conversation starters back to other content you've posted or some group experience such as an annual conference. Link to the content or event, and post a photo as well when you ask a question. Associations have an advantage in that they already have valuable content that members want. They already see the association as an expert in the field.
Post stats from a recent study of the industry you serve and ask about your followers' personal experience.
For example, post an image with text such as “LinkedIn says that 42% of marketers have acquired a new customer through LinkedIn. What has your experience been when seeking new customers on social media?”
Be human & honest - As we become more connected through social media, it's easy to become disconnected as a person. Don’t hide from mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes and by talking about them you gain more trust from your followers.
If you make a simple gaffe, own up to it: “Sorry folks, we accidentally posted the wrong date for the networking event next week. The correct date is October 15. You can register for the event here (insert your link.)”
Be grateful - Communicate online as you would in person (see above) so your social media presences reflect your organization's personality.
Thank your members, partners, and related businesses. Where you can, specifically mention their Twitter handle and Facebook profile or page.
Surprise your members by sending them hand written thank you notes about their online activity. “Jim, I just wanted to say thanks for commenting on our Facebook question last week about the new employment laws. We appreciate your feedback and value your membership in our association.”
You know members will be more likely to respond in the future if they know you’re truly listening.
Keep track - Manage your members’ and their staff’s social media profiles by storing them in your association management software. You’ll know who’s who when you’re reaching out to existing members and seeking prospective members.
When you make contact with a prospective member, create a custom field in your association management software or a lead source in your CRM to track your success using social media.
Bonus: Have a plan - Decide what you want to accomplish with social media: issues advocacy, drive membership, or position the leadership as experts? That answer will shape whom you're talking to and what you're talking about.
Using social media effectively can extend the reach of your association and help create raving fans who share your messages. Keep these tips in mind and your social media program could be a problem solver for you.
What methods of engaging your followers have been successful?